Governance & Compliance Insider

Do Your Confidentiality Clauses Expressly Allow Whistleblowing?

Christopher L. Doerksen

Over the last few months, the SEC has obtained a string of cease and desist orders against SEC reporting companies, both domestic and foreign, to enforce an often overlooked rule adopted under Dodd-Frank.  Rule 21F-17 provides that “[n]o person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the [SEC] staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to...

ISS Releases Executive Summary of 2017 Proxy Voting Policies

Cam C. Hoang

ISS has published an executive summary of 2017 updates to its benchmark proxy voting policies for the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific regions.  The updated policies will generally be applied to shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2017. U.S. policy changes are summarized below, and companies should keep them in mind as they consider policies on director compensation, dividend and vesting policies for stock awards,...

Whistling through the Graveyard: The Future of the SEC’s Whistleblower Program

Bryn R. Vaaler

The SEC announced on November 14 that it had made an award of more than $20 million to another whistleblower.  This was the third highest award since the agency began paying them out in 2012, and it brings the total of such awards under the SEC’s program to more than $130 million.  Although the current whistleblower program has been criticized by conservative groups such as...

Glass Lewis Releases Its 2017 Policy Guidelines

Kimberley R. Anderson

Glass Lewis released its updated policy guidelines for the 2017 proxy season for several countries, including the United States and Canada.  The most significant change in the United States guidelines relates to director overboarding and was expected.  The changes to the United States guidelines include: Director Overboarding Policy As indicated in last year’s guidelines, in 2017, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against a director...

Act Now! Glass Lewis Opens Its Issuer Data Report Service Enrollment

Kimberley R. Anderson

On November 17, 2016, Glass Lewis opened enrollment for its 2017 Issuer Data Report (IDR) program.  This program will cover companies in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway and all EU countries on a first-come, first-served basis.  Space is limited, so the enrollment will close on the earlier of January 6, 2017, or as soon as the annual limit for each of the...

SEC Allows Companies to Conduct a Generally Solicited Securities Offering Immediately Following a Privately-Solicited Offering

Christopher L. Doerksen

On November 17, 2016, the SEC issued a new interpretation stating that a company may conduct a generally solicited offering of securities under Rule 506(c) immediately following a completed securities offering made in reliance upon Rule 506(b), without invalidating the prior offering.  The SEC’s new interpretation will give companies more flexibility in their financing plans, allowing them to potentially take advantage of the best of...

First U.S. Proxy Access Nominee

Jason Brenkert

On November 10, 2016, GAMCO Asset Management filed a Schedule 13D/A and 14N announcing that it had used the proxy access bylaw at National Fuel Gas to nominate a director candidate for election to NFG’s board at the upcoming 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.  This nomination appears to be the first use of proxy access bylaws by a shareholder to nominate a director in the...

SEC Staff Makes Life a Little Easier for Reporting Companies by Permitting Annual Reports to Shareholders to be posted on Company Websites

Jason Brenkert

On November 3, 2016, in a new C&DI, the SEC Staff stated they will not object if a company posts an electronic version of its annual report to shareholders on its corporate web site by the dates specified in Rule 14a-3(c), Rule 14c-3(b) and Form 10-K, respectively, in lieu of mailing paper copies or submitting it on EDGAR. The report must remain accessible for at...

SEC Clarifies Baby Shelf Rules

Michael Newton

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently issued a new compliance and disclosure interpretation (the “New C&DI”) in Question 116.25 regarding the availability of Form S-3 for the registration and sale of shares by companies with public float less than $75 million. Instruction I.B.6(a) to Form S-3 states that if a registrant has a public float of less than $75 million, the registrant may only...